Defining the problem:
Protecting healthcare workers worldwide from occupational exposures to bloodborne pathogens
Healthcare workers are a critical resource in every corner of the globe -- the infrastructure without which healthcare cannot exist. But in caring for us, they place themselves at risk daily of contracting life-threatening infections from bloodborne pathogens, including HIV, hepatitis B and hepatitis C. Injuries from needles and other sharp medical devices, along with accidental exposures to blood and body fluids from splashes and sprays, are one of the most serious occupational hazard faced by healthcare workers.
Needlesticks and sharps injuries are the most common cause of occupational infections among healthcare workers, responsible for an estimated 1,000 HIV, 66,000 hepatitis B, and 16,000 hepatitis C cases annually to health workers around the globe (World Health Organization 2003). A significant number of additional occupational infections in health workers are caused by direct blood contact. In global regions such as sub-Saharan Africa, patients are more likely than not to be infected with one or more bloodborne pathogens, greatly increasing the risk to health workers.
Read an interview with Lisa Black , a U.S. nurse occupationally infected with HIV and hepatitis C from a needlestick injury.
Read about Dr. Matthew Lukwiya, who died of an occupational exposure to ebola in 2000 while fighting an outbreak of the disease in the Gulu District of Uganda.